Criss Angel, Phenomenon contestant nearly fight live over psychic ability

Criss Angel and a contestant on NBC’s competition series Phenomenon got into a verbal and nearly physical altercation on last night’s live show.

After contestant Jim Callahan performed, Criss Angel said, “I just think it’s comical, quite frankly,” and challenged Callahan and fellow judge Uri Gellar to identify what was in a sealed envelope in his pocket, offering either $1 million if they could do so. Callahan says, “I find you an ideological bigot. … You claim that you do not believe in the paranormal, you do not believe in the psychic.” While Criss Angel keeps saying, “Tell me what’s in the envelope,” he gets up and approaches Callahan, who was getting closer to the judges; eventually, the host grabs Callahan, who pulls away violently. NBC has the video of the incident.

The most suspicious part of the whole incident is the show’s host, who says at the very end of the clip, “It’s a live show. This is not planned. We’ll see you after the commercial break.” Why the need to insist the confrontation isn’t fake before it’s even over?

Coincidentally, one day earlier, Criss Angel told Larry King that “no one has the ability, that I’m aware of, to do anything supernatural, psychic, talk to the dead. And that was what I said I was going to do with ‘Phenomenon.’ If somebody goes on that show and claims to have supernatural psychic ability, I’m going to bust them live and on television.”

Fight! [NBC]
CNN Larry King Live: Mindfreak Criss Angel [CNN]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.